Navigating COBRA law can be daunting. The U.S. Department of Labor provides answers to the most common questions involving COBRA. The most common questions are net/netted below:
What is COBRA?
COBRA stands for Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) and requires group health plans to provide a temporary continuation of group health coverage that otherwise might be terminated.
Who does COBRA cover?
COBRA requires continuation coverage to be offered to covered employees, their spouses, former spouses, and dependent children when group health coverage would otherwise be lost due to certain specific events.
Who pays for it?
COBRA coverage is typically more expensive than the amount active employees pay since the premium is often subsidized by the employer. Employers can charge the full cost of coverage to the COBRA participant as well as a fee.
Which group plans are covered by COBRA?
The law generally applies to all group health plans maintained by private-sector employers with 20 or more employees, or by state or local governments.
How do I become eligible for COBRA continuation coverage?
To be eligible for COBRA coverage, you must have been enrolled in your employer's health plan when you worked and the health plan must continue to be in effect for active employees. COBRA continuation coverage is available upon the occurrence of a qualifying event that would cause an individual to lose his or her health care coverage.
What if my employer doesn’t notify me about COBRA eligibility?
Group health plans must provide covered employees and their families with certain notices explaining their COBRA rights. Your COBRA rights must be described in the plan's Summary Plan Description which you should receive within 90 days after you become a participant in the plan. In addition, group health plans must give each employee and spouse who becomes covered under the plan a general notice describing COBRA rights.
How long do I have to elect COBRA coverage?
If you are entitled to elect COBRA coverage, you must be given an election period of at least 60 days
If I waive COBRA coverage during the election period, can I still get coverage at a later date?
If you waive COBRA coverage during the election period, you must be permitted later to revoke your waiver of coverage and to elect continuation coverage as long as you do so during the election period.
Under COBRA, what benefits must be covered?
If you elect continuation coverage, the coverage you are given must be identical to the coverage currently available under the plan to similarly situated active employees and their families. Any change made to the plan's terms that apply to similarly situated active employees and their families will also apply to qualified beneficiaries receiving COBRA continuation coverage.
How long does COBRA coverage last?
COBRA requires that continuation coverage extend from the date of the qualifying event for a limited period of 18 or 36 months. When the qualifying event is the covered employee's termination of employment or reduction in hours of employment, qualified beneficiaries are entitled to 18 months of continuation coverage.
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